Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"This isn't going to be, like, a rotation"

So said Terry Francona on Friday after the Red Sox announced the acquisition of Adam LaRoche. The lineup that gave the team the best chance to win, the manager said, would play. Pride and hurt feelings were going to have nothing to do with

Kevin Youkilis is going to play just about every day. He's not affected in any way by the acquisition of LaRoche. That leaves three players -- LaRoche, Mike Lowell and David Ortiz -- for two spots in the lineup every day.

Let's look at the splits (in terms of OPS):

LaRoche, L
vs. LHP: .749
vs. RHP: .847
Of note: OPS'ing 1.250 in first three games with Red Sox.

Lowell, R
vs. LHP: .915
vs. RHP: .754
Of note: Having trouble defensively but is OPS'ing .935 since his return from the disabled list.

Ortiz, L
vs. LHP: .823
vs. RHP: .963
Of note: His home-run power remains, but his July batting average (.231) and on-base percentage (.291) look awfully similar to his April batting avearge (.230) and on-base percentage (.290).

And let's look at the pitchers the Red Sox will be facing:

Vin Mazzaro, RHP
vs. LHB: .723
vs. RHB: .845
Of note: Has never faced the Red Sox.

Brett Anderson, LHP
vs. LHB: .802
vs. RHB: .704
Of note: Allowed just two hits -- to righties Jason Bay and Nick Green -- in a complete-game shutout of the Red Sox on July 6.

Gio Gonzalez, LHP
vs. LHB: 1.553
vs. RHB: .806
Of note: Has faced lefties for just 38 at-bats in the major leagues. In the minor leagues, his numbers are pretty similar against righties and lefties.

You might be surprised, then, to learn that LaRoche is sitting out today's game against Mazzaro but will be back in the lineup -- with Ortiz sitting -- against Anderson on Wednesday. Lowell, who sat out each of the last two games, is back in the lineup and playing third base today.

It's not a rotation, Francona said. But the Red Sox are going to face far more righties than lefties the rest of the way, a scenario that appears to marginalize Lowell despite the $12 million he's being paid this year and the $12 million he'll be paid next year.

The third baseman appeared to fit best in the lineup on Wednesday and Thursday against back-to-back lefthanded pitchers. Instead, though, he's in the lineup on Tuesday against a righty -- a move almost transparent in its intention to appease a veteran who the Red Sox don't yet want to marginalize.

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